Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing
Driving home from Peoria late last night, I was praying and I kept hearing the hearing the Holy Spirit speak to me telling me to sound the alarm as there were wolves in the sheepfold. My mind went back to a preacher I had watched on TV a few days ago when we were in Kentucky, and the things he was saying were in such error that I found myself become quite agitated and almost screaming at him his errors and quoting the Bible, while Libby's mom would say, "you're right Darrell." But as I listened and prayed, I became aware that this was not what God was speaking about. I was not exactly clear what He was saying, so I just continued to pray and wait. I hardly slept last night, as I was troubled. I was to "sound the alarm", but concerning what, exactly? Then this morning, I was responding to someone on Facebook who said that there were wolves in his church, and suddenly I was reminded of a study that I taught nearly 8 years ago on the relationship between a pastor and his sheep. (Pastor means "shepherd" for those who are unaware.) In this, study, I taught a section on the wolves among the flock. I'm not going to share the whole thing here, but a couple of nuggets, and what I feel the Holy Spirit has been prompting me about.
A couple of verses of Scripture that are crucial to understanding this:
Remember, a wolf does not usually come out and say, "I'm a wolf!" Yet, they will tell you who they are if you watch them over the long haul. A wolf will use people until they have had enough and then kick them to the curb, hurt them and leave them wounded. The true shepherd comes along and tends to the wounded sheep. Sadly, those that are prone to following wolves will usually go back and follow them over and over and over, because they come with enticing words and flattery that builds the sheep up and makes them feel good... until they are ready to kick them to the curb again. Yet, they will follow them again and again, allowing the wolf to mistreat them... because they like the sweet lies they speak to them for a season... and even a season of bliss seems worth it to those that are prone to follow the false shepherd.There is only one way to recognize wolves... and that is by their fruit. The problem is that so many misunderstand what "fruit" is. You see, as I mentioned above, wolves enter the flock through deceptive means. Jesus spoke of those who do not enter in by the gate, but creep in over the fence. In other words, they are in stealth mode. They don't go to the pastor (shepherd) to begin a new study, class or whatever... they do it on the sly. A true shepherd hears the footsteps or sees the "tracks" of the wolf and he sounds the alarm, because the grazing sheep are unaware of the danger. Sometimes the wolf appears to be a brother or sister in Christ... and they often to appear to be a leader and lead many astray, because their ultimate goal is to draw the attention to themselves and cause others to be amazed at just how spiritual they are. This is why it is so important to examine the fruit. Not just one piece of fruit, but the whole... and not just one season, but in and out of season. The one who is in and out of church... up and down spiritually. The one who draws you near and then pushes you away. The one whose own life's fruit is a mess... theses are wolves. These TV preachers who are divorcing and remarrying while continuing to preach and teach the gospel... they are wolves. People giving spiritual advice while their own homes and families are in disarray are operating outside the Biblical guidelines for church leader and are wolves! Examine the fruit! If your "leader" has left behind them a trail of broken lives of those they have mentored or "discipled" you are looking at a wolf. The Bible tells us clearly that if a man cannot manage the affairs of his own house, then he is not fit to manage the house of God... and that includes small groups! These people's goals are NOT to help others... it is to feed their own lustful desires, to draw attention unto themselves and they really do not care what damage they do to the Body of Christ, so long and they feel good about themselves. Again, this is not the heart of the shepherd... this is the mark of a wolf in sheep's clothing. But there is a real problem with detecting wolves. Fruit is seasonal. It takes time for fruit to develop and be known. A tree buds in the spring, then it blossoms... and then fruit appears. And you often cannot tell the true value or nature of a fruit until late in the season, almost at harvest time. And this is why you must look at the big picture. Don't determine that because your shepherd hurt you that he is bad. Discipline hurts. But wolves will take advantage of times of discipline to draw away the sheep that is not focused on the big picture. Yes, it hurt today... but what is the fruit of that shepherd? What has been his or her track record? When you look at it this way... not just by mere numbers or appearances... but by the fruit... then you will know if you are following a true shepherd or a wolf.
A couple of verses of Scripture that are crucial to understanding this:
* Acts 20:28 - 30 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
* Matt. 7: 15 - 20 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
* Matt. 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
These Verses Describe The Nature And Intentions of Wolves Among The Flock
Paul said: After his departing, (his being Shepherd) that "grievous" (Burdensome) Wolves would enter, not "sparing" the flock. Also, from within their own ranks men would arise, (from the flock) clothed as a sheep, they would speak "perverse things"; meaning they would distort the truth and deliberately cause misunderstanding and cause division. The fact is, wolves always have the same purpose... and that purpose is To draw away followers to themselves.
Jesus warned to beware those who came clothed as sheep (one of you!) but on the inside, they had a selfish, purpose... to draw people unto themselves for selfish gain and pride. People have always interpreted this to mean they will scatter and destroy the flock (and that may in fact occur) but in reality, what they are doing is drawing people unto themselves. They will suddenly "feel led" to start a new study, a new group or a new church... which sounds like a good thing, doesn't it? But let's examine this a little closer.
If a man had a desire to have a family, that is a good thing. But suppose he did not want to take the time to find a woman whom is attracted to, take the time to woo and court her, marry her and then produce a family. Suppose he spied out another man's family and he admired what he had, so he developed a plan to woo that man's wife away from him, and he built a fancy house, and did all sorts of things to steal the affection of this woman and he eventually succeeds in causing a rift, and splits this family and takes it as his own. We would all call this man a thief and adulterer and probably a whole lot worse! Yet, this very thing is happening all over the land in our churches! Men move into a town and rather than go out and win the lost and "build a family" (a church) they spend thousands, maybe even millions of dollars (as was the case in one church in my town) before they even opened the doors... to have a fancy building, send fancy cards to everyone's homes and they successfully divide "families" (churches) and they have a ready made family. They sure appear successful... but they are thieves and wolves! They have not started with a couple of sheep and nurtured them in an healthy environment to reproduce sheep, but they have crept in with perverse things, with flash and splendor to draw away from other churches to draw them unto themselves. According to the scripture I referenced above... these are wolves in sheep's clothing! And it does not have to happen on a grand scale. People do it all the time by speaking half truths and deception to those in the body of Christ, and appearing to be very spiritual, they will say, "I felt led to begin a new study" and they draw sheep away from the Body and unto themselves. Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! Any time someone draws away from the Body, you are looking at a wolf in sheep's clothing. If it is above board and for the right purpose it will always add to the body, never take away!
Remember, a wolf does not usually come out and say, "I'm a wolf!" Yet, they will tell you who they are if you watch them over the long haul. A wolf will use people until they have had enough and then kick them to the curb, hurt them and leave them wounded. The true shepherd comes along and tends to the wounded sheep. Sadly, those that are prone to following wolves will usually go back and follow them over and over and over, because they come with enticing words and flattery that builds the sheep up and makes them feel good... until they are ready to kick them to the curb again. Yet, they will follow them again and again, allowing the wolf to mistreat them... because they like the sweet lies they speak to them for a season... and even a season of bliss seems worth it to those that are prone to follow the false shepherd.